Boston: Progress seen in advancements for ASL, deaf studies
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Wed Sep 19 14:02:14 UTC 2007
Progress seen in advancements for ASL, deaf studies
COM counts sign language as foreign requirement
By: Angela Marie Latona
The College of Communication will begin counting American Sign
Language as a foreign-language credit in response to last semester's
debate about its legitimacy.
Prior to the decision, ASL did not fulfill COM's two-semester foreign
language requirement. "COM acknowledges that there is a strong deaf
community living within our national borders and that the study of
this culture is no less significant than studying the culture of any
foreign nation," said acting COM assistant dean Micha Sabovik in an
While COM has already reviewed and updated its ASL policies, the new
College of Arts and Sciences dean, Virginia Sapiro, and her college
will review its policies and ask professors for their opinions. CAS
only allows ASL to fulfill its foreign-language requirement if a
student takes a proficiency exam administered by the School of
Education at the end of the fourth semester of study.
Sabovik, who is also the COM student services director, said the
policy change was made after COM representatives spoke with other
schools' deans and examined their policies. She said they also talked
with people knowledgeable of ASL.
COM's former policy only allowed spoken or written languages to
fulfill the requirement, but the philosophy behind the requirement
changed, she said.
"No longer [as] a literal interpretation, our foreign language
requirement now strives to enable students to communicate directly
with a group of people or people they would otherwise not be able to
do so with," Sabovik said.
New policy details should be posted on the COM website this week, she
said, but as of last night it was not available.
"We think that linguistically, it is a language, and it does have a
culture," said former CAS dean Jeffrey Henderson in an April 24 Daily
Free Press article. "We don't think it's a liberal-arts language to
the extent that we would want to put it in one of our departments and
offer a series of language-based culture classes in it."
Sapiro said one of the main problems in accepting ASL courses toward
the requirement without a proficiency exam is that classes are taught
in SED, so it is not under direct CAS administration.
"Can we guarantee the courses will be there with the quality we need?"
she said. "[ASL] will be reviewed some time in the foreseeable future.
As I understand it, it is really a historical issue with American Sign
(c) Copyright 2007 The Daily Free Press
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